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MENAFN - 16/08/2008

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Saudi stocks extended their losses for the third week in a row last week amid low trading volumes. The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) shed 3.11 percent, closing at 8,188.30 points, down from 8,451.06 points the previous week. TASI is currently 25.82 percent lower than the year's start.

"The index has now accumulated losses of 900 points, or 10 percent of its total value, since July 25 despite the attractive financial ratios of listed firms," the Riyadh-based Bakheet Investment Group (BIG) said in its weekly report.

"The ongoing dispute between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear program and the retreat in regional stock markets may have pushed investors to stay on the sidelines instead of taking advantage of falling prices," it added. The BIG expected trading volumes to increase starting next week "pushing up prices" especially as new Tadawul rules go into effect.

Tadawul has announced that it will begin displaying the substantial shareholdings of the listed companies on Tadawul website from today to enable investors to view all substantial shareholders who own 5 percent or more of each company's shares according to the record of the Depository Center at Tadawul. The lists will be updated daily starting today.

SABB Takaful was the top gainer last week as its shares jumped 18.88 percent to close at SR74.

Shares in the National Shipping Co. of Saudi Arabia plunged 25.64 percent to SR21.75 last week.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) shares fell 3.65 percent to SR118.75.

The stock market turnover increased slightly to SR21.29 billion last week compared to SR20.7 billion in the previous week.

Arab stock markets also lost further ground last week. However, the drastic decline in stock prices over the past few weeks prompted a buying wave in the Kuwaiti and the United Arab Emirates stock exchanges that gave the impression stock prices could be bottoming out, they added.

"I believe geopolitics and the absence of moving factors are giving rise to a spate of speculation that destabilizes markets and forces many investors to stay on the sidelines pending fresh developments," Wajdi Makhamreh, chief operating officer at the Amman-based Sanabel International Holding, said.

"However, the drastic fall of prices is set to correct the trend and ignite a rebound through waves of buying" similar to those which occurred on Thursday in Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, he said. The plummeting of oil prices could also have affected regional stock markets particularly Saudi shares, he added.

Jordanian shares fluctuated dramatically for the third consecutive week led by mining and the Jordan Petroleum Refinery stocks.

The all-share price index of the Amman Stock Exchange fell 0.74 percent last week, closing at 4,434 points from 4,467 points previous week, according to the ASE weekly report.

In Kuwait, the KSE all-share price index shed 1.4 percent to close week at 14,616 points compared with previous week's close at 14,828 points.

The benchmark price of the UAE stock exchanges of Dubai and Abu Dhabi plunged further 4.7 percent last week, closing at 5,531 points down from 5,802 points previous week.

The GulfBase GCC index also declined 3.33 percent to 6,253.16 points. The value of GCC traded shares increased 10.48 percent to 10.87 billion, while volume of traded shares surged 6.23 percent tom 3.18 billion of shares.

Negative performance

The BMG Saudi Index continued its negative performance for the third week, falling, week-on-week, by 3.7 percent to reach a closing level of 443.75 points. The total market turnover, however, appreciated week-on-week by a strong 29 percent to reach at SR8.9 billion (2.4 billion), compared to SR6.9 billion (1.8 billion) registered in previous week, with an average turnover per session of SR1.8 billion (474 million). The number of shares traded went down by a strong 43 percent from the volume traded during the week to reach 218.7 million shares, compared to previous week's 153 million shares. The average price-earnings (P/E) ratio for 2007 earnings was 27.0 times, while the price-to-book (P/B) ratio was 4.04 times.

Most sectors ended the week in red zone, with only the electricity sector going above its previous week's closing level, increasing by 2.2 percent.

Twenty-nine shares moved down week-on-week, whilst only one share went up.


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